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London forex traders to go on trial on U.S. price rigging charges

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By Reuters

By Brendan Pierson

NEWYORK (Reuters) – Three former London-based traders are expected to go to trial on Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan on charges they conspired to rig prices in the roughly $5 trillion foreign exchange market.

Chris Ashton, Rohan Ramchandani and Richard Usher, who worked at Barclays Plc <BARC.L>, Citigroup Inc <C.N> and JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N>, respectively, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges. All three came to the United States voluntarily to face trial.

Lawyers are expected to make opening statements in the case once a jury has been chosen. U.S. prosecutors announced the charges in January 2017.

Ashton was Barclays’ global head of spot currency trading, Ramchandani was Citigroup’s head of G-10 spot currency trading, and Usher had a similar role at JPMorgan, according to court filings by prosecutors.

The case followed worldwide investigations that resulted in about $10 billion in fines for several large banks, and the firing of dozens of traders.

Several others have been charged in the U.S. probe, including Mark Johnson, a former head of foreign exchange cash trading at HSBC Holdings Plc <HSBA.L> who was sentenced to two years in prison in April after being found guilty by a jury, and former Barclays trader Jason Katz, who pleaded guilty and faces sentencing next year.

Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan, BNP Paribas SA <BNPP.PA>, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc <RBS.L> and UBS Group AG <UBSG.S> all entered related guilty pleas, and were collectively fined more than $2.8 billion.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office decided in March 2016 to close its own criminal probe, saying it lacked a “realistic prospect” of obtaining convictions.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)